A Tragedy of Death and Ruined Lives

I suspect that all my readers will know of the tragic death of a nurse in the UK following a hoax call by presenters of an Australian radio station that was subsequently broadcast. Unfortunately, it rapidly went commonwealth wide, if not global, because of the interest in the Royal Family. I first knew about it early on Saturday morning when the BBC chose to cover it (I was listening to 5-Live as I went to get the weekly shop). At the time the presenters were quoted as claiming that it was the easiest prank ever made… Sadly – the first step to making an innocent person feel that they had made an unforgiveable mistake. Apparently, the presenters also felt that it was good to brag about it on twitter – did they not consider that everyone (except me) has a twitter account and that their victim was probably seeing every word? No, because all they were thinking  about was furthering their careers. An example of Bullying of the worst sort 😦

The fact that the BBC chose to cover it doesn’t help, and I believe that some questions need to be asked there – I guess their get out is the Twittering which they will claim had made it public knowledge. But maybe an ‘outraged’ approach from them might have helped.

As for the company involved: When the CEO of a company stands up and claims that there was no way to predict the tragic outcome of a prank carried out by radio presenters in his employ you can immediately smell the burning rubber of an attempted getaway from any obligations. Actually, his people should at the very least have been able to predict that the nurse involved might lose her job as a result – but I guess nurses losing their jobs is ok as long as the presenters and the CEO further their careers 😦 Anyone at that level of a company has a responsibility to both his employees and to the wider public. To hear him spout ‘No laws were broken’ is a disgrace… I understand that unintentionally causing death due to an unforeseen result of your actions comes within the criminal law of Involuntary Manslaughter – so actually, in the UK at least, a law has been broken. But, what a way to respond to the situation! – The man is clearly without any consideration beyond his radio show rankings 😦

Whether such a case will ever be brought is obviously in the hands of the Prosecution Services of both countries – but I hope that it does go to the courts and that he will be one of those brought to trial! The real guilt for this tragedy must rest at the door of the CEO and his team of people who determine whether something should be put on air. Their duty was to protect the young journalists, if not their unwitting victim, from the dangers of their actions. They failed and the death of a Nurse and Mother of two along with the destruction of two young people’s careers rests firmly at their door 😦

Of course – should it go to trial, it will have to be in Australia. It would be impossible to get a fair trial over here (you can tell that by how angry a normally relaxed person like me is feeling at the moment).

Sadly, the first people who we all forget when something like this happens are the family. I would like to express my sympathy to the family of Jacintha Saldanha – our prayers are with them at this time.



  1. a really stupid and thoughtless tragedy …. i have no respect at all for modern commercial journalism 😦

    • I Agree Christine – if we can take the commercial out of journalism then maybe, just maybe, we will get a search for truth rather than the disgusting situation that we currently have.

  2. A logical, if disgusting, outcome of current journalistic practices. Rupert Murdoch and his ilk have a great deal on their consciences. Or would, if they had consciences. But they seem to be outmoded possessions.
    And anyone who thinks Princess Diana’s death was not abetted by paparazzi on their buzzing death wasps is too naive for words.
    Well spoken, Martin.

  3. This story made it all the way to the U.S. before this dear woman took her life. I first heard the story through our local radio, where the on-air personalities were making fun of the nursing staff reporting how “foolish” they were to fall for the “poor impersonations” of the Queen. From there, the next day or so, came the news of Jacintha’s death. The tone of the on-air conversations did not shift to outrage, but instead chose to emphasize that “she must have been troubled” and there was no criticism of the Australian team.

    I do share your outrage. I think that the story has already mostly disappeared from our airwaves. It is a tragedy I struggle to understand. I do know that mean-spirited “punking” and practical joking is at the heart of today’s entertainment. It has never been to my taste, in fact, I get so uncomfortable I usually turn completely away, but I don’t expect society to change one thing as a result of this loss of life. It is an outrage, and it is a supreme tragedy. I am glad to have heard your description of the particulars, as I don’t know that we’ve heard the details. And yes, her dear family needs our prayers.

  4. I hadn’t heard about this, yet, Martin…
    sounds incredibly sad, though…

  5. There is always a strong element of humanity missing in these pranks which always involve some degree of humiliation. This poor woman paid the ultimate price.

    • Sadly that seems to be the way of things in the world of journalism these days – don’t do any serious research, just fill your airtime with mindless garbage. They always claim that they’re giving the public what they want but I suspect that the public are only tuning in because they’re being starved of anything more serious. It’s a pleasure to turn on Radio 4 occasionally and listen to Gardeners Question Time!

  6. A very sad end to the story. Consequences are not something most of these people don’t even consider.

    • You’re right Binky, they don’t really care as long as they get their story 😦 I’ve seen some of the clips released of the presenters answering questions about what and why. The young lady does seem genuinely upset but I have to say that I wasn’t impressed by the young man – all he seemed to do was say ‘Gutted’ and then repeatedly look to put the blame elsewhere. I’ve seen professional footballers show more remorse for a dodgy tackle than he seemed able to display for his actions 😦

  7. Very sad indeed. How often does it happen that practical jokes go wrong & someone gets hurt? In this case the outcome was fatal.
    I was watching one on Youtube the other day where they wheeled a coffin standing upright on a trolley into a lift with an unsuspecting woman in the lift. While the undertakers went back to get something the lift doors closed. The corpse wasn’t dead just makeup to make him look that way. They rigged it to make the elevator stop between floors & then the bloke inside the coffin opened the lid & started reaching for the woman. As you can imagine this poor woman was hysterical with fear. The show’s producers no doubt thought it was funny but how easily could such a terrifying thing have caused that poor woman to have a heart attack? Some people just don’t stop to think of consequences.

    • That sounds a dangerous prank Tony. In the past people did pranks on people that they knew. So there was always that element of control. Apprentices at our telephone exchange used to get to ride the lift up to the 4th floor when they were graduated. They were tied to a chair in just their underwear – the 4th floor was where all the lady telephone operators (and a few gay male operators) worked. It was an exercise in causing embarrassment rather than anything else. The ‘youth’ in question was normally primed about his likely journey a couple of weeks in advance so it wasn’t an unexpected surprise when it happened.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: